Child Abuse

September 9th, 2007 at 10:17 am by David Farrar

Many people are up in arms at the proposal from the Children’s Commissioner to have each family and child’s progress monitored by an authorised provider.

Yes it is a somewhat desperate proposal, but one motivated by how desperately bad our child abuse story is. They’re not online but the Dom Post had a two page spread on all our high profile child murders,what the promised response was each time, and how little has changed.  Some of the solutions have been implemented but having marginal effect, and others have slipped off the screen (Ministers have some accountability for this).

Seriously, I almost cried reading about all those deaths.  To say they are unacceptable is under-stating it by a magnitude.  And you know if it will help stop this barbaric toll, I’ll even consider Kiro’s proposal.

Not that I think her proposal is particularly sound.  I think the high risk factors which make a child more likely to be at risk of child abuse are well enough known, that there is little argument for universal interventions, rather than targeted interventions.  One argument might be that there would be less resistance to targeted interventions if they were universal and some families didn’t think they were being singled out.

But nevertheless universal interventions should be a last resort.  Almost all the cases of child murder we have had have not happened to families unknown to the state.  It doesn’t just happen out of the blue.

I would agree with Dr Kiro that home visitation is important.  I suspect that one will be able to quickly ascertain if a child is at risk, based on a home visit.  If the beer crates are still in the living room, that’s going to be a warning sign for example.

So universal interventions are not the answer, but before we reject that, we should come up with some workable ideas or solutions as alternatives.  Because the status quo of being the most unsafe country in the developed world for children can not continue.

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